Angie's List: Patio or deck renovations

During the spring summer and fall, both a deck and a patio can provide an outdoor extension of your living space. But subtle differences between the two might make one better for your needs than another.

Robert Hadden's shrubs took a beating during the winter. So Hadden removed them from his home and put a patio in their place instead. And he quickly learned it wasn't an easy do it yourself project.

"I had the intention of putting it in myself but as I quickly learned just carving an area in the earth and putting down stones, I wasn't going to achieve much doing that. I knew there was a lot more to it than that,” says homeowner Robert Hadden. “That's why I called the contractor I did and had him do it for me."

Choosing whether to build a deck or patio deserves careful attention since either can give you years of enjoyment if designed correctly.

Patios work best on flatter terrain because you need a minimal amount of structural engineering to put them in.

"In general, sense as far as what products people are moving towards um paving stones for many years were smaller formatted meaning size and shape of the stones and so forth,” says patio contractor Kevin Schluchter. “You have very traditional looks that are used in historical areas, like a 4x8 type brick or paver. Those are now expanding out to larger format pieces where you can get pieces that are large as 24x36 for an individual stone. So people seem to be trending more towards having larger formatted pieces in general."

Decks can be installed out over variety of terrain.

"We can create a couple of different spaces with the deck, higher spaces, lower spaces. So it can feel like separate areas,” explains deck contractor Tom Booker. “Also, we can put benches, privacy screens, and railing, so it really can flesh out the space nicely.”

"When planning a deck or patio first you want to get your budget in line, then see what your options are,” says the founder of Angie’s List Angie Hicks. “Figure out how much square footage you're looking to add and then price it out accordingly with each different type. Keeping in mind the price range can vary on installation, but you also need to consider what the lifelong maintenance is as well. For instance, a wood deck is less expensive than a composite deck to install initially, but requires more maintenance."

An incorrectly installed patio or deck can be an unsightly blight on your landscape. So, it's critical to choose a licensed contractor and never sign a contract without reading the fine print.

Before you build a deck or patio, you'll also want to look at the way weather affects your property. You need to determine whether roof drainage could create a problem on an attached deck, or if the way snow and ice build-up could create a slippery hazard on a patio.

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